US administration on Friday sent an unclassified justification for the airstrikes on January 2 that killed Iranian leader Qassem Soleimani, International media reported. The airstrikes which were conducted under Trump’s administration resulted in a retaliatory attack by Iran raising fears of a world war. The move also frustrated many US lawmakers who claimed that that President gave shifting justifications for the attack.
However, on Friday, the House of Representative Foreign Affair Committee released the memo which was submitted to the Congress to give a clear justification for the previously conducted airstrikes. It said:
“The President directed this action in response to an escalating series of attacks in preceding months by Iran and Iran-backed militias on US forces and interests in the Middle East region.”
It added that the purpose of the action was to protect US personnel, deter Iran and Iranian backed militia’s ability to attack and “end Iran’s strategic escalation of attacks.”
The memo further said that the US constitution gives the president the right to direct the use of force to protect the country from an attack or threat of imminent attack adding that an Authorization for the Use of Military Force that Congress passed in 2002, for the Iraq War, also applied.
The Democrats were satisfied with the justification. Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the memo contradicted Trump’s previous assertion that the strike prevented an imminent attack and said lawmakers needed more answers. He further said that they needed answers and testimonies, international media reported.
Engel then announced that he was looking forward to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to testify before the committee on February 28. Reportedly, Pompeo had agreed to appear at the open hearing on Iran and Iraq policy which is scheduled to be held on February 28.
This comes a day after the US Senate passed legislation with rare bipartisan support to limit the president’s ability to wage war against Iran. The resolution, authored by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, asserted that Trump must win approval from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran. Eight Republicans sided with Democrats on Wednesday on a procedural motion to force a vote on the issue.
(With inputs from agencies)